IV (Intravenous) Iron - PBM

What is intravenous (IV) iron?

IV iron is a treatment of a man-made iron medication given to patients through an intravenous line. This treatment involves slowly infusing iron into a vein over two to three hours. It can be given at Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre (QEIIHSC) in the Minor Procedures Clinic.

Which patients are given IV Iron?

The blood management team may suggest IV iron for patients with a very low ferritin (blood test of iron stores) level. IV iron might be suggested if a patient with low hemoglobin and low ferritin or iron and cannot take iron pills. If the number of days before your operation is short (less than 14 days) and your hemoglobin is low, IV iron might be suggested.

What are the benefits of IV iron?

Iron is one of the important ingredients the body needs to make hemoglobin. If a patient goes into an operation with low hemoglobin, it can quickly become seriously low. The blood management team works to have your hemoglobin the best it can be before your operation. IV iron can give your body a lot of iron very quickly. One treatment is the same as taking iron pills for about two to three months. IV iron is given right into your vein. This method avoids the step of iron being absorbed from the stomach.

What does the doctor need to know about me?

It is important for the blood management team to know your medical history, allergies and medications that you take. It is very important to tell us if you have had IV iron in the past. If you have had IV iron in the past, please tell us about any side effects that you noticed. If you are treated with IV iron, your family doctor will be given information.

What are the side effects of intravenous iron?

Allergic reactions are possible but do not happen often. Tell the nurse giving you the IV iron treatment if you have:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest tightness
  • Swelling of your throat, face, mouth or tongue
  • Hives, itching
  • Feeling warm or lightheaded

If you have any of these symptoms, the nurses in QEIISC’s Minor Procedure Clinic will have the blood management doctor on-call check on you. There is medication to help ease these side effects.

Less serious side effects that can happen up to 48 hours after IV iron are:

  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Moderate to high fever
  • Backache
  • Chills
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Feeling like you have the flu, stomach cramps or pains
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Itching or a rash

If you have any symptoms while at QEIIHSC, tell the nurses. There is medication to help ease these side effects.

If you have any symptoms after leaving the hospital, visit your family doctor, a walk-in clinic or the closest emergency department. The blood management team should be notified of any side effects.

How/where is IV iron given?

A doctor must be on-call in the hospital when IV iron is given. Some types of iron medication are given as a small test dose first and then the rest of the treatment. For some types of iron medication, you must stay at the hospital for 30-60 minutes after the treatment. For surgery patients at the QEIIHSC, IV iron is given in the Minor Procedure Clinic, located at the Halifax Infirmary site and for medical procedures; IV iron is given in Medical Day at Victoria General site.

How many treatments will I need?

For most patients, only one IV iron treatment is needed before an operation. The blood management team will recommend treatment to have your hemoglobin the best it can be before your operation.

Will IV iron interact with my other medications?

Tell the blood management team about all your prescription medications, over-the-counter medications, and/or herbal medications you are taking. In general, IV iron will not interact with other medications.

If I take iron pills, can I still have IV iron?

There is no harm in taking iron pills and having IV iron treatment. IV iron treatment is recommended by the blood management team to help have your hemoglobin the best it can be before your operation. Usually, the IV iron treatment is not enough iron to completely fix a low iron level. The blood management team will recommend iron supplements that are best for each individual patient.